Nancy Pelosi refused to allow White House officials access to the House floor for a State of the Union walkthrough

President Donald Trump. Pete Marovich/Getty Images
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week instructed the House’s sergeant-at-arms to cancel a walkthrough for White House officials preparing for the State of the Union address.
  • President Donald Trump wants to go forward with the State of the Union on January 29 but would need Pelosi’s permission to use the House chamber.
  • Pelosi has already called for postponing the address until the partial government shutdown is over or having Trump instead submit it in writing.

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is still trying to deliver his annual State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on January 29, despite barriers put in place by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who now controls the House chamber.

Under Pelosi’s directive, a scheduled walkthrough last week for White House officials in preparation for the State of the Union was canceled.

Read more:
Pelosi backtracks on the reasoning for her letter asking Trump to delay State of the Union

Fox News first reported the canceled walkthrough and the written letter from the White House to the sergeant-at-arms on Tuesday requesting another chance to survey the House chamber.ABC News reported on Tuesday morning that the White House was planning to move ahead with an address outside Washington and a formal State of the Union at some point.

A representative for the House’s sergeant-at-arms did not respond to a request for comment.

Ultimately, whether the State of the Union goes on as scheduled is up to Pelosi, not Trump. Trump cannot deliver a State of the Union address on the floor until the House and the Senate vote to convene a joint session of Congress.

Pelosi initially called for postponing the address, citing security reasons amid the partial government shutdown. When the Department of Homeland Security said it would be able to properly secure the venue, Pelosi changed her reasoning to reflect that security personnel deserved to be paid during a State of the Union address, something for which the only remedy would be an end to the shutdown.

The move prompted Trump to cancel the military charter for a bipartisan congressional delegation’s trip to Afghanistan that included a stop in Brussels. The cancelation came soon after the delegation boarded a bus to take them to the plane. A wild-goose chase around the Capitol grounds ensued.

Democrats planned to go forward with the trip abroad by taking commercial travel, details of which a senior Pelosi aide suggested the White House leaked to the public on purpose. A senior White House official called the accusation a “flat-out lie.”

The back-and-forth of Pelosi and Trump stepping on each other’s plans suggests the State of the Union is unlikely to go on as planned next Tuesday, as much as the White House wants it to.

“The date of the State of the Union is not a sacred date. It’s not constitutionally required. It’s not the president’s birthday. It’s not anything,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol last week. “It is a date that we agreed to. It could’ve been the week later, and it could be the week later if government is open.”